Typically, anime romanticizes rulers and monarchies. With depictions of young heroes in service of grateful kings and queens, royalty has a spotless reputation in many fictional genres. This is particularly true in fantasy due to their increased presence in the story at large.
However, there are many rulers who are less than benevolent. Their irresponsibility, malevolence, and selfishness prove that they’re interested only in furthering their own aims rather than those of their people and nation.
10/10 Meruem Killed Humans Indiscriminately
Hunter X Hunter
Although Hunter X Hunter‘s Meruem was known as “the King,” he behaved more like a petulant child. Shortly after being born, he murdered Peggy for little reason and even tried to kill Neferpitou.
It didn’t take long before he set his sights on the NGL and expanded the influence of chimera ants across the world. The only redeeming quality about Meruem’s rule is that he showed remorse for the people he killed near the end of his own life.
9/10 Barragan Almost Caused A Civil War Out Of Boredom
Barragan may have been a strong Bleach villain, but he was a terrible leader. After spending an incalculable amount of time in Las Noches, he considered starting a civil war in order to cure his boredom. Luckily, Aizen arrived and drafted him into the Espada before he could put his own subjects at risk.
Although the former shinigami proved a much better leader, Barragan resented him for the usurping and constantly chafed under his leadership. Regardless, Barragan’s interest in amusing himself would have come at the expense of many innocent people.
8/10 Emperor Charles Didn’t Care For His Subjects
Emperor Charles did not care for his Japanese or even Britannian subjects in Code Geass. The latter was seen when repeatedly abandoning them to the Black Knights in order to pursue his own goals. In the end, Charles hoped to craft a world free of conflict or strife.
However, this would have come at the cost of free will or any sort of advancement, both prices that he was willing to pay. Charles also treated his own children terribly, traumatizing Lelouch and putting Nunnally in harm’s way.
7/10 Rod Reiss Would Sacrifice His Own Family For Failed Traditions
Attack On Titan
The true heir to Paradis’ throne in Attack On Titan, Rod Reiss was less than honorable. He wanted to preserve King Fritz’s will by reclaiming the Founder but was too cowardly to do it himself. As a result, he attempted to impose it upon Historia so that the royal family could rise to its former glory.
When Historia eventually refused, Rod transformed himself into a colossal monster that nearly destroyed the same nation he allegedly wanted to protect. His demise helped Historia to establish herself as a credible next queen of Paradis.
6/10 Rasa Nearly Destroyed His Home By Trying To Protect It
As a Kazekage in Naruto, Rasa was under high pressure. His son had been made into a Jinchuriki, meaning that he could unleash unprecedented devastation on the village if not carefully watched. Instead of giving Gaara the attention and love that he needed, Rasa forced Yashimaru to attack him.
This understandably shattered the young boy’s world and made him resentful of everyone. Were it not for Naruto’s attempts to rehabilitate him, Gaara would have inevitably destroyed the Sand on account of his father’s betrayal.
5/10 The Demon King Used His Subjects & Own Children
Seven Deadly Sins
As his name suggests, the Demon King was the most corrupt and tyrannical ruler of Seven Deadly Sins. He used the Ten Commandments as pawns, freely taking back the power he borrowed from them regardless of the danger it posed.
He was also apathetic toward his sons’ wellbeing, lying about grooming them for succession when he actually wanted to use their bodies as vessels. When at first failing to fully corrupt Meliodas, the Demon King used Zeldris as a backup. This illustrates that he has no sense of loyalty or duty to his own people.
4/10 Bradley Tried To Sacrifice His Own People
King Bradley led the kingdom of Amestris in Fullmetal Alchemist. Although almost universally beloved for his wisdom and leadership, he had no feelings toward his subjects and devoted himself fully to Father’s plans.
Since the beginning, Bradley was fully aware of and condoned the massive transmutation circle being carved across the nation’s borders. He did more than stand idly by as his own people were used as offerings in a dark ritual – the villain assumed a direct role in seeing it to fruition.
3/10 “Fairy King” Oberon Exploited The Players’ Faith
Sword Art Online
“Fairy King” Oberon was Sugou’s avatar in Sword Art Online. He was personally responsible for making Asuna’s life a nightmare and extending her captivity within the NerveGear hardware.
In addition to designing levels impossible for players to beat, Sugou also studied and delicately modified their brains every so often while they played. Considering the recent trauma induced by the events of Aincrad, this was a blatant betrayal of trust in a time intended for healing.
2/10 Charloss Was An Incorrigible Celestial Dragon
Charloss was deliberately written to be One Piece‘s most unlikable character. He used human slaves, attempted to purchase Camie as an item on the black market, and could not even fight his own battles. His undeserved superiority complex is on account of his status as a World Noble.
A descendant of the government’s founders, he expects everything to be handed to him on a silver platter and feels entitled to murder those who cross him. Given his behavior at the Reverie, Charloss clearly hasn’t learned his lesson from being humiliated at the Sabaody Archipelago.
1/10 Malty Was A Defaming Conspirator
The Rising Of The Shield Hero
Malty is handily the most controversial character in The Rising Of The Shield Hero. Faking being assaulted by Naofumi, she deliberately weakened the kingdom by turning its cardinal heroes against one another. This made it easier for Pope Balmus to make his move, nearly usurping the ruling queen in her absence.
Considering Malty’s gleeful manipulation of her own country in order to weaken its defenses, she is perhaps the most despicable royal character ever written. At least villains like Barragan are honest about their intentions and those like Bradley work with greater goals in mind. Malty is as myopic as she is malevolent.
NEXT: 10 Anime Characters With No Integrity